Welcome back to EFL as Eternal! In this edition, we've got one new mechanic (or rather, a twist on a mechanic that was previously covered back in episode 7), and a handful of new interactions that have be added or expanded upon in the most recent set. Let's get right into it!
Previous Episodes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Championship Special, 8, Freshman Rankings Special
As mentioned in the teaser, we have a new twist on an old mechanic! To review, Merchants (which I've thematically called General Managers here) allow you to trade a card from your hand for one in your Market (called Locker Room here) that corresponds to the influence of the merchant (i.e. a fire merchant can only get fire cards). As you can see here, Doak Grizzly has both fire and shadow influence, so he can trade for either a fire or a shadow card (and it doesn't have to be a single influence card; a card with say both shadow and time influence would be eligible). The catch here though is that the dual influence of the Merchant (General Manager) means that your Market (Locker Room) is changed to a Black Market (Practice Squad). The difference is that none of the cards in your Practice Squad can be in your main deck at all. You gain the versatility of drawing from 2 different influences at the cost of not being able to run the cards in your main deck. Given the number of cards that are now in the game, it's not a huge drawback for a lot of decks, though there are some that would opt to stick with the single influence ones.
While trying to figure out new things to bring to these articles, I noticed a new trend that had some cards that were stronger than their costs indicate, but with a significant drawback. Matthew Stanton here is an example of this. A 3/3 for 2 cost (especially for a single influence) is already quite strong, and flying on top of that is very strong. The downside here is that without a Quarterback on the field, Stanton can't attack. Now a 3/3 flyer in the early game is still useful as a blocker if nothing else, but you're really going to want to push that tempo advantage while you have it, which makes Stanton a bit difficult to use. Much like his EFL counterpart, Stanton is a great talent, but as a receiver he still lives or dies on the strength of his Quarterback.
If a 2 cost 3/3 with a single influence is strong, then it follows that a 3 cost 2/2 with double influence would be weak, no? Well not exactly. Once again, Flying is a good boost to value, and Warp can give you a bit of card advantage when you can play Dewey Jackson off the top of your deck. The important line here is his ability to buff other units, which shows how Jackson's presence makes his team better around him. Alone Jackson isn't anything special, but with a good set of teammates, he can give you a big return on the value.
Another theme I've noticed recently is units that have alternate forms of removal evasion. Teppei Renomitsu here has a complete immunity to any spells or curses directly played on him by the enemy, which is similar to having an Aegis that never goes away. Of course, it's not quite the same since he can still be effected by full board effect spells as well as any effects from an enemy unit. Still, much like in the EFL, Renomitsu is one tough player to take down.
Finally, we come to one of the biggest things to come from this set: triple faction support. While there were a handful of 3+ faction cards before, this set really start pushing tri-factions as a standard. Theremin McCracken fits the bill here as a top end finisher. Although he's a base 3/3, it's effectively 4/4 given that he plays a curse upon summon. Flying and Aegis alone make it tough to stop him if you don't have a Flying unit yourself, and Lifesteal on top of that means that even if you do, McCracken is going to help stabilize your health regardless. Some cheap curses would help boost McCracken and other units to high stat levels in a hurry, and Poor Practice Facilities in itself is not insignificant either. If you can't stop McCracken right away, the game can get out of hand in a hurry.
Champaign Harlotte is McCracken's teammate on the Brigade, and here he is with a cheap curse to help further his agenda. With the push for tri-factions, we got a line of cheap cards from each faction that grant influence from a pair of other factions (in this case, we have a primal card that can provide either justice or shadow influence when played). This makes the card useful in the early game as a form of fixing, and when you get to the end game, you can play this after McCracken hits the board to trigger his effects. As for the curse itself, giving an opposing unit Reckless is nice since you can force a unit that may not have wanted to attack into swinging into a situation where it gets blocked and killed. It's not perfect for every situation, but 1-cost psuedo-removal is nothing to sneeze at. It's also representative of how Harlotte can lure an opponent into thinking his man has him beat before coming out of nowhere to shut the pass down.
Like usual, we end on a spell, this time featuring the twins Porom and Palom Mysidia. It's a fairly straight forward board sweeper, dealing 2 damage to all units on the board. The twist is that you can spend an extra 2 and exhaust a pair of units (thematically, the "twins" casting the spell) to boost the damage against the enemies. While simple, the versatility of this sweeper makes it very good as a way to stabilize against aggro decks, especially token based ones.
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